When the draw for the second round of this year’s Champions League was made on the 16th of December last year most fans and probably majority of the football world concluded we won’t stand a chance against the current reigning Champions from Bavaria.
The more positive one’s said that if Wenger changed habits and bought a top striker in the mould of Costa and added a top midfield player in the form of Draxler then maybe we might have a chance.
But we all know how our winter transfer window unfolded so…
Since the draw was made we have lost our best player of the year in Ramsey, Theo, who these kind of games are made for and Giroud has been caught with his pants down.
Meanwhile, Jack is struggling with his form and Diaby, well he is still Diaby but at least he has a new companion in Kim.
Listening to the media and pundits will make most Arsenal fans assume that there is no point in even turning up for the game but most forget that even the 5 times winners of this competition have not had it all their own way over the last twenty odd years.
As the club and German legend rightly said this week whilst singing the praises of our often under-appreciated manager and taking a dig at Jose for not being a Bayern material, the last 30 years has been very disappointing for them. If you consider that the Bavarians won 3 European titles in the 70’s but then had to wait almost 25 years to win another trophy in 2001 and another 12 years in 2013, it seems that they are not quite the efficient German machine we all assume they may be.
The Bavarians come into this tie having scored a respectable 13 goals in their last 4 games in the Bundesliga with even the ‘pensioner’ Pizario chipping in a few over the weekend.
We on the other hand have scored 5 and conceded 7 in the last 4 EPL games but do the last 4 results paint a clear picture of both clubs form coming into this all important game?
In my humble opinion I would say No!
Bayern have played against the likes of Stuttgart and Freisburg who are all lingering around the bottom half of their league whilst we have played the two biggest clubs in England based on history, although one might say United are not currently a force.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to diminish the scale and quality of the opposition we are about to face but merely trying to put things in perspective.
With this in mind, if we compared the form of both clubs in their respective leagues then a completely different and rather frightening picture can be painted. After all, FC Munchen are leading the Bundesliga pack by a colossal 19 points whilst we sit respectably one point behind the ‘special needs one’s’ team’ in the EPL.
But as a long term enthusiast of the Bundesliga all due to my fellow other country man Tony Yeboah, I have to admit that this is one of the weakest Bundesliga seasons I have watched in over 20 years. The gulf in financial power of the Bavarians, who I consider to be the most financial stable club in world football, is clearly taking a toll on the rest of their rivals.
Since Klopp’s Dortmond beat Pep’s Bayern in the German equivalent of our community shield in the summer, Dortmond have regressed and misfired on a few occasions and they now find themselves sitting in 3rd place 17 points behind league leaders Bayern.
However, all is not well with the Bavarians. They come into this game with their own set of issues that include Ribery requiring surgery in his backside to repair a burst blood vessel…
Shaqiri who has truly improved under Pep is also missing from the clash but Bayern have a fit again Schweinsteiger and Martínez to call upon. But I suspect even with Schweinsteiger and Martínez back to full fitness, Pep will persist with Lahm and Kross in midfield with Gotze and Muller giving them the attacking prowess they may need to take a good advantage away to the Allianz.
I think the Bavarians will line-up with Neuer; Alaba, Dante, Boateng, Rafinha; Lahm; Muller, Kroos, Gotze, Robben; Mandzukic in a 4-1-4-1 set-up with Muller and Gotze interchanging places during the game and also overloading our left hand side knowing that again either Santi or Poldolski may not be very disciplined to help our left back.
On our side we have no new injuries and so ideally I would like Gibbs and Sagna to come in for Monreal and Jenkinson with Poldoski playing on the left hand side of our attack. I presume Podolski will have a big point to prove against a club he may feel did not give him many opportunities during his brief spell with them.
In midfield, we have Rosicky fully rested after having been given a break away from the FA cup game and with Arteta suspended; Flamini should resume his defensive role in front of our back 4. I am hoping that Wenger will play Tomas in the all important box to box role in a 4-1-4-1 formation, no doubt Bayern will line up in the same way.
Wenger will no doubt expect Giroud to put aside all of his off the field issues and lead the attack so that he can cause Dante and Boateng a few problems in their defence.
I am not sure why Bendtner has not been selected in the last 2 games but personally I think he is another big game player who may relish coming on if needed instead of Yaya. I would prefer Serge to be given the last place on the bench instead of the young Frenchman.
With Alaba and Rafinha likely to play in a very attacking mode, I expect Wenger to use Oxlade on the right of our attack in order to impress again and help stake his claim for a place in the England squad for Brazil.
Arsene may however think that it won’t be fair on Alex to be playing 2 tough games in 4 days soon after coming back from injury.
I also believe another big decision Wenger will have to make will be who to choose between Santi, Jack and Ozil in the second attacking midfield role.
Personally, I think he will give Ozil the nod over Jack and Santi and I don’t think Jack would suit the type of game Arsene would have to play at home in the Champions League against a very fast and technical F.C Munchen team oozing with confidence in their own ability…
I hope Arsene shows the world that the old dog still has a few tricks up his sleeve and shows Pep why Wenger is still the old master he publicly admits to respect.
The line-up will most likely be Szczesny; Sagna, Mertesacker, Koscielny; Gibbs; Flamini, Rosicky; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Ozil, and Giroud. I think Wenger will however drop Alex for Wilshere.
Those with interest in tactics may observe that Pep and Arsene have both reverted back to playing 4-1-4-1 after both played 4-2-3-1 in the past 6 or so years… an interesting move by both managers in my opinion.
I think the Bavarians have a weak area in central defence and so if we’ turn up’ and play without the proverbial hand brake on we stand a good chance of making sure that the history of no club retaining the European title continues for another season at least. The key in my view will be how and who Arsene chooses to stop both Kroos and Dante from playing the ball from the back.
Come on you Gunners… Let’s hope the players give the home fans something to shout about.
Have a good day…
Written by Tsgh